[All stories in this series:
1: Drew 2: Vicky 3: Egs 4: Danson 5: Egs & Danson 6: Nelle 7: Elliot 8: Emmeline 9: Josie 10: Nelson 11: Jase 12: Hilda 13: Jase & Danson 14: Drew & Vicky 15: Donna & Elliot]
Egs woke slowly, the feeling of something being not quite right invading her sleep. Rarely restless, and almost always level-headed, it took her a few minutes to realise both that she had woken up, and that she was scared.
She shook herself mentally, then physically, and sat up to look around. Everything seemed normal. She reached over to shake her wife awake, to look for reassurance that all was well in the deepest reaches of the night, before remembering there was nobody to shake. Not anymore. Just the lingering remnants of a relationship that had fossilised long before Wendy fell in love with someone else.
With no comfort there, Egs climbed quietly out of bed, opened the sturdy locked drawer in her nightstand and removed her police issue glock, unlocking the trigger guard and bringing it into the crook of her left shoulder, Specialist Firearms Officer training from her pre-detective days coming smoothly into play. A lap around the house, just to check everything was empty and locked up, should do the trick.
Of all of the things that sped through her mind, from an intruder to a car backfiring, that might have woken her, none of them included turning the corner to the living room and seeing the ghost of the murder victim sitting in her favourite armchair.
Egs stood perfectly still as the ghost turned to look at her, dripping pale white gore from the back of her head.
“Help. Me.” The ghost whispered, air scraping through lungs that no longer existed.
Egs shook her head to clear it, rubbed her eyes, looked again. The ghost was still there.
“Help. Me.” The ghost repeated.
“Are-are you Alison?” Egs asked, wincing at the quavering in her voice.
The ghost nodded slowly, carefully, as if it hurt to move.
“How – I mean you’re dead, how can I help you now? I’m trying to find who did it, if that’s what you mean.”
The ghost shimmered, “Trapped. Now. Please. Break. Chains.” Each word seemed to make her paler, as if the effort drained her energy.
“Ok, just…just hold on a minute,” Egs paced back to her bedroom to grab her phone, returning to the living room expecting to find the ghost gone. But there she remained, a little more solid after recovering from speech. “I’m gonna call my partner, ok? I trust him with my life, and anyone else’s.”
The ghost – Alison, Egs reminded herself firmly – made that pained nodding motion again.
Danson groaned and detached himself from the twink he was currently sleeping with, padding out of the room with his phone as he answered, “What’s up, Egs?”
Egerton hesitated, which was unusual, and he frowned, “Egs?
“Well.. I’ve got a ghost in my living room.”
Danson grunted, “Funny. Look I know you don’t like-”
“This isn’t about your leather bar pickups Danson, I swear, and I’ve repeatedly said I was sorry about that whole thing, so can you stop bringing it up? No I have an actual ghost. In my living room. Asking for help to break the chains that hold her here. Oh, it’s Alison, by the way, complete with smashed in head.”
Danson leaned against the wall and brushed a meaty hand down his beard, “A ghost.”
“I don’t believe in ghosts and I know you don’t either so-”
“I mean til now I never believed they existed, but this one is staring right at me, and talking to me.”
Danson heaved himself off the wall and plodded back to his bedroom, “I’m coming over, keep the ghost there if you can cos I’m not believing this til I see it too.”
“Fair enough, I’ll do my best, see you in few.”
Danson grunted again as the phone cut off. He dressed quickly in jeans and a t-shirt, one a previous partner had bought him because it showed off both his size and his muscles, and gently shook his current beau awake. “Jase? It’s alright, stay asleep, but I gotta run out, work stuff. I’ll try and be back for breakfast, but if not I’ll see you later.
Jase mumbled and flailed a hand out, finding Danson’s knee and patting it in acknowledgement, before rolling over in the big bed.
Egs made coffee and toast in the kitchen, watching the ghost over the breakfast bar as she did so, waiting for Danson to arrive. He didn’t live far, so it wasn’t long before headlights hit her window and she heard the creak of his handbrake and gentle clunking of his car door.
He opened the door, a greeting half out of his mouth, then stopped dead as he saw the ghost.
She hadn’t moved from the chair, but her head was now turned around, facing him while her body continued to face the other way.
Egs dropped coffee and toast on the coffee table as she went to close the front door, and waited for him to speak.
“What the fuck, Egs?”
Egs shrugged and shoved toast into her mouth.
“Help. Me.” Alison pleaded, “Trapped. Please. Break. Chains.” Each word made her shimmer and grow paler, almost disappearing.
“Can you tell us anything about who has you trapped or how to fix it, or who killed you?” Egs asked.
The ghost opened her mouth to speak, but the effort was clearly too much, and she shimmered away, leaving empty space where she once sat.
“Ok but that was real, though,” Egs said immediately.
Danson tilted his head from side to side, not even realising how cold the room had been until it now began to warm up. “I guess so, but I still wanna examine everything to make sure.”
Egs nodded and the two of them spent the rest of the night checking every nook and cranny of the living room and kitchen area, finding nothing, until, sun coming up, they both gave in, exhausted.
“Yeah, I think you have a ghost there, Egs.”
“I think I do,” she agreed. “One who was murdered and is now trapped, somehow, and wants us to help. It’s all gotta be part of the same thing – her murder and this, right?”
“Finding it hard to sell this as coincidence so let’s go with yeah unless we find out otherwise.”
“So now what? We can’t exactly tell anyone or use her a evidence. And where should our priorities be – solving her murder or helping her move on?”
“Hopefully one will help the other,” Danson shrugged. “Short of anything else to do, I say we keep on the murder and follow whatever else we find, if anything, in our own time.”
“Own time,” Egs rolled her eyes, “So much of that we have.”
Danson grinned, “Well, guess we gotta make some.”
Egs rolled her shoulders and stood, “Well I’m gonna make some to sleep in right now. Spare bed’s yours if you want it – you know where everything is.”
Danson stood and shook his head, “Nah, I can grab couple hours sleep at home then get breakfast made for me when Jase wakes up, but ta.”
Egs stopped and examined him for a moment, “You’re getting serious about this one, huh?”
Danson hesitated, a flash of fear darting across his face at the idea, and then nodded.
Egs nodded back, “Then I’ll make a proper effort, dinner date soon, ok?”
Danson smiled, his tiredness lifting for a moment in the face of genuine pleasure, “Thanks Egs.”
“Yeah, yeah, bugger off, I’m going to bed.”
Danson guffawed and let himself out, closing the door securely behind him. Serious with Jase? Scary thought, that. And yet maybe…not so much. When this case – and this ghost shit – was all over, maybe some commitment was called for. He smiled to himself as he put the car in gear and rolled on home, back to bed and the gorgeous guy he was falling in love with.
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